ThinkFun rose from obscurity to become a respected game publisher thanks to the tenacity of the founders and its clever brain-challenging games.
Founded in 1985 as Binary Arts by Virginia-based husband and wife team, Bill Ritchie and Andrea Barthello.
The company’s mission is “to translate the brilliant ideas of the craziest mathematicians, engineers and inventors into simple toys that can be appreciated by boys and girls around the world.”
Ritchie and Barthello’s first foray into game publishing included the Hexadecimal Puzzle, The Cat, and The Horse.
Within six months, the company moved from its base inside the founders’ home to a commercial space that would allow them to grow the flourishing enterprise.
SpinOut, TopSpin, and BackSpin were released in the late 1980s, just before the recession of the early 1990s.
The recession gave the company an unlikely opportunity to shine, as its inexpensive games were a hit with cash-strapped families.
ThinkFun was listed on Inc. 500’s fastest-growing companies list from 1992 to 1994
Template for Success
In 1996, ThinkFun released its most successful game to date, Rush Hour a “beginner to expert” challenge board game invented by Nob Yoshigahara.
The success of Rush Hour allowed ThinkFun to expand into international markets and the game became a template of sorts for the company.
A “beginner to expert” series of challenge games followed, including Hoppers, Railroad Rush Hour, Safari Rush Hour, River Crossing, Stormy Seas, and Lunar Lockout.
Working with specialists in the area of cognitive development, the company evolved to develop games that are fun and which nurture interest in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) fields.
Binary Arts changed its name to ThinkFun in 2003 to better communicate its purpose to produce brain-challenging games.
ThinkFun products can be found in 60 countries and are translated into over 20 languages.
Awards and Accolades
ThinkFun continues to publish games and earn recognition from industry insiders. A complete list of awards can be found on ThinkFun.com. Just a few of the honours include:
Autism Live Best Card/Board Game Winner 2020 (Chicken War)
Parents’ Choice Gold Award 2020 (Dog Crimes)
The Toy Insider Top Holiday Toys Award 2016 (Circuit Maze)